Physical Review Letters
Swarming in the Dirt: Ordered Flocks with Quenched Disorder
The effect of quenched (frozen) disorder on the collective motion of active particles is analyzed. We find that active polar systems are far more robust against quenched disorder than equilibrium ferromagnets. Long-ranged order (a nonzero average velocity v ) persists in the presence of quenched disorder even in spatial dimensions d=3; in d=2, quasi-long-ranged order (i.e., spatial velocity correlations that decay as a power law with distance) occurs. In equilibrium systems, only quasi-long-ranged order in d=3 and short-ranged order in d=2 are possible. Our theoretical predictions for two dimensions are borne out by simulations.